anthropologist, musician, artist, domestic gypsy and spiritualist…

Archive for the category “In the Home”

Building Your Pantry ~ Five Essential Herbs and Spices

by Alisa Rose P.

Herbs are an easy and essential way to bring excitement and interest to any dish. They are aromatic and delicious, they run from sweet, warm flavors, to spicy and savory. Herbs have been used the world round by many cultures both for the flavor as well as their medicinal and magical properties, according to each tradition. Dried herbs and seasonings are still an essential part of any kitchen and healthy home, bringing flavor both to our food and to our lives. These five herbs are what I have found to be the five most useful, diverse and are a good place to start building your pantry.



I don’t know many people, if any, who don’t love a dash of cinnamon in their cookies, on their toast, over their cereal, swirled in their coffee… It’s warm and sweet flavors add a lingering warmth to desserts and mellow smoothness to savory stews and casseroles. Cinnamon hails from Bangladesh originally and  is said to inspire motivation, clarity and comfort, as well as strengthen bonds between family and friends. Cinnamon also boosts your metabolism, helps with digestion and can help alleviate small headaches.


Rosemary’s bright flavors and distinct aroma makes any  heavy dish come to life, bringing it out of the muddy mire of flat flavors. I prefer fresh Rosemary, which I have grown at every studio, apartment and house I have lived in. All it takes is a small sprig. Strip the green leaves and chop or add whole. Rosemary is said to offer protection and healing, along with clarity and focus. It also can relieve headaches, reduce swelling, improve memory and is naturally anti-bacterial. Rosemary can first be seen in archaeological records as growing in Asia and the Mediterranean, but has been internationally prolific for centuries and become a cornerstone in many recipes.


The peppy and almost spicy flavors of ginger can brighten up and add a fresh kick to both savory and sweet foods. Ginger, both fresh or powdered, can be added to a salad dressing, sprinkled onto stir-fry, blended in a smoothie, or brewed into tea for a pleasant zing. Indigenous to Asia, ginger is said to empower and bring good luck to those who eat it. Ginger also eases nausea and cramps, prevents colds, can boost the metabolism and is, apparently, an aphrodisiac.


The rich and full flavors of cumin add depth and punch to any savory dish. Whether as whole seed or in powder, cumin is diverse and fills any flavor “gaps” you might have in your food. Which, is probably why it was so popular in Mediterranean trading routes in ancient times, as it is native to Egypt, and still remains a common element in the kitchen. Cumin also tastes great sprinkled on fruit, believe it or not, and dashed into drinks like Margarita’s, Orange Juice or Watermelon Slush. Cumin is said to boost loyalty and bonds in personal relationships, offer positive energy to a home and help release negativity. Cumin also is rich in iron and helps in liver detoxification.


Roasted, raw, powdered, sauteed or ground. I have never had a dish that I regretted adding garlic to. Garlics mild spice, rich tones and smooth warmth makes every meal flavorful and cravably perfect. While Garlic’s early ancestors grew in Central Asia originally, it has long been prolific throughout the Western world and become a staple for many culinary traditions. Garlic is said to offer intense protection, healing and inspire romance. Garlic tablets can help lower cholesterol and blood pressure, prevents skin from wrinkling, and keeps mosquitos from biting.

NOTE: I did not include Salt and Pepper, as these are counter top basics and seemed too obvious…. I also avoided my spicy essentials like chili flakes, allspice and chipotle powder for those who are less inclined. That’ll be a separate post perhaps 😉

So, tell me, what are you pantry essentials?


Before You Travel~ Five Things To Do

by Alisa Rose P.


The transition from glorious vacation and rest, to the mundane and dull can be difficult and frustrating… dreaming of majestic mountains and pristine beaches and wishing you could be back there makes going to work so much harder than usual. So, here are five things you can do in your home before you leave to make coming home a welcome haven for rest between work and wonder land. It only takes a half hour to do everything on the list and it is so worth it. Because, when you come home from Paradise, the last thing you want to do is clean dishes or fold laundry. You need a nap! So, make sure that’s all out of the way (or most of it) so you can prepare yourself for the dull day ahead.

**I highly recommend house sitters do this as well… the last thing a home owner wants to do when they come home, is clean up someone ELSE’s mess.**

1) Take Out the Trash and Recycling-
This may seem like no brainer stuff, but you would be surprised how many families I have watched pets for who have left this undone, without realizing they will come home to stinky trash (so, I take it out). The scent of over-ripe veggies and past-its-prime meat packages is not pleasant to begin with but it is most unwelcome when its the first thing you notice walking in after vacation… your mind instantly turns to dread and the feeling that the next two hours are going to become a domino effect of chores. It’s a less than one minute task. Walk it out and dump the trash and recycling in the respective bins.

2) Do the Dishes-
I know… we all dread it. But, dreading it after vacation is worse than doing it before you leave. You can even leave them in the drying rack or fill the dishwasher right before you leave. Just make sure they are out of the sink and cleaned. No one wants to come home to a dirty pile, especially when you are hungry and you need a plate or bowl. I find that even the most horrendous piles of dishes take no more then ten minutes, fifteen tops.

3) Make the Bed-
I don’t know a single person who doesn’t like coming home on a normal day to a made bed. It’s inviting, cozy and comforting. Travel is exhausting and coming home to a fluffy welcoming bed you can flop down on is relieving… much better than shoving the laundry and paper work off of it and curling up in a corner with a wadded up blanket. It takes about one minute, or a little more if you are like me and have a thousand pillows of various sizes and shapes. And it is sooo worth it.

4) Wipe Down Your Counters-
This includes your bathroom counters. Why? I don’t know many people who like looking at the Jackson Pollock like arrangement of food smears and jelly blobs, left on the counter after a quick departure or harried meal. Or, the fine layer of cosmetic powder and flecks of toothpaste smattered on the bathroom sink and tile counter. Coming home to the gelatinous, crusted mess after vacation is frustrating. I, for one, find that it adds to the exhaustion and makes me want to turn around and get right back on the plain to la-la-land and stay there until I am bankrupt. It’s a three minute job tops. Spray. Swipe. Done.

5) Put Your Laundry in the Basket
That’s right… I did NOT tell you to fold it, OR put it away. But, at least put it in its respective dirty or clean basket… AT LEAST. I know, as a clothes fiend, that packing somehow results in a scene that appears as if my closet has vomited all of its contents onto the floor, bed and down the hall. Coming home with dirty clothes in your luggage that you rummage through for souvenirs and your toothbrush before you promptly pass-out only adds to the mess. So, get it off the floor and bed and into a basket — one for dirty, one for clean. It takes maybe a minute, possibly two if you have to sort which is dirty and which is clean.

It’s a simple list, and it can be done in less than half an hour. You can spend your whole vacation without worrying about what you left undone and it will make coming home a relief … or, at least, less of a drag.

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